Oral Presentation Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia 2021

When the Rubber Hits the Road: Loss, Leaching and Lethality of Rubber Crumb to Aquatic Environments (#19)

Scott Wilson 1 , Robert Niven 2 , Robert Symons 3 , Rick Krassoi 4
  1. Macquarie University, North Ryde, NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia
  2. School of Engineering and Information Technology , , The University of New South Wales, Canberra, ACT, Australia
  3. Regional Technical Manager , Eurofins Environment Testing Australia & New Zealand, Lane Cove West, NSW, Australia
  4. Ecotox Service Australia, Lane Cove West, NSW, Australia

The recycling of rubber tyres for use in playgrounds, sports fields and road surfaces has been a recent common practice. On synthetic turf fields up to 5% (or 5 tonnes) of the rubber crumb that is laid down is lost every year. The pathways and movement patterns of this crumb from these field and the factors influencing them however have not been documented. The leaching of metals, PAHs and other organic chemicals has been found to be occur in these materials, raising concerns over the potential ecological risks of their use. One emerging contaminant in particular associated with synthetic tyres is 6PPD-Quinone which has recently been found to be toxic to larval Coho Salmon at the ng/L level. In Australia, little data exists on the potential harm this rubber material may have and as such our study involved documenting the ecological risks of recycled rubber crumb to local aquatic systems. This will be undertaken using three phases: 1. quantifying the loss of rubber crumb from synthetic sports fields and playgrounds; 2. Measuring rubber crumb leachate and waterways near to sports field for key targeted chemicals including 6PPD-Quinone; and 3. Assessing the toxicity of this leachate to native aquatic species. To date, data from Phase 1 shows that losses of rubber crumb are present at densities of 24,000 particles per m2 at two metres from playing surfaces with numbers dropping rapidly at four metres. Evidence of rubber crumb from stormwater netting near to these fields indicate migration to local waterways is apparent. The results of the three phases will be presented and the implications for aquatic ecosystem health discussed.